The MRAC’s 7th Annual Juried Show
Judged by Professor Moe Brooker

  Portrait of Emma   By Harry Gamarda 

Portrait of Emma  By Harry Gamarda 

By David Kozinski 

In July the Manayunk-Roxborough Art Center held its 7th Annual Juried Show for visual artists. A call to the public for submissions went out in June and 110 submissions were received for consideration. Nineteen MRAC members and twelve non-members had work accepted for the exhibit in the general categories of painting, drawing, photography, sculpture, and mixed media. 71 works were juried into the show by returning judge Moe Brooker, who judged the 6th Annual Juried Show in August, 2014. Brooker awarded the $300 First Prize to Harry Gamarda for his oil painting, “Portrait of Emma”. The $175 Second Prize went to Susan Shipley for her acrylic painting, “Beyond Office Windows”, and Ronald W. (“Ron”) Howard received the $100 Third Prize for his photograph, “Michael’s Magic”. 

Professor Brooker is a painter who enjoys the challenges of working in oil, acrylic, pastel, oil pastels, oil stick and encaustic media; both separately and together. There have been numerous solo exhibitions of his work at venues such as the Ruth Siegel Gallery in New York and the Sande Webster Gallery of Philadelphia. He is a regular member and exhibitor of the June Kelly Gallery in New York City and is considering a new exhibition there next year. Brooker has taught at the Tyler School of Fine Arts (Temple University); University of North Carolina; the Cleveland Art Institute; Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts; College of Fine Arts, in the city of Tinjin (The People’s Republic of China); and the Parson School of Design in New York City.

Recently, the artist has been a part of a city-wide collaboration between the Woodmere Museum and the Philadelphia Museum of Art called Inside Out. This is a project that places large-scale framed replicas of artworks from both museums along the streets of Philadelphia neighborhoods in an outdoor “pop-up” exhibition. Brooker observes, “The two-mile Art Gallery Along Germantown Avenue allows pedestrians and bikers the opportunity to encounter works such as Andy Warhol’s ‘Four Jackies’, John Constable’s ‘Sketch for a Boat Passing a Lock’ and Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema’s ‘A Reading from Homer’ in Mt. Airy and  Kano Hogai’s ‘Two Dragons’, Andrew Wyeth’s ‘Groundhog Day’ and Van Gogh’s ‘Sunflowers’ in Chestnut Hill.  Some will be mounted outdoors on walls while others will be free-standing. Each will be displayed in a frame representative of the time period in which it was created.  The art will be accompanied by an informative label with commentary by museum curators explaining what they most admire about the works.” Brooker adds that he designed a series of 13 stained glass windows, each measuring 10’ by 7’, for a building in Long Island, for the Long Island Railroad. On August 13th, at 11:00 A.M., the building will be open to the public and there will be a ceremony to commemorate the installation, which he will attend.

Among his many awards and honors, Brooker received the Legacy Award, from the African American Museum in Philadelphia and The Penny & Bob Fox Distinguished Professorship, Moore College of Art, both in 2011. In 2010 he won The Hazlett Memorial Award (also known as The Governor’s Award) for Artist of the Year from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. He received the Medal of Merit from the Philadelphia Art Alliance and was twice invited to present papers at Oxford University, UK. Brooker’s works are in public collections at The Philadelphia Museum of Art; The Cleveland Museum of Art; Musees des beaux arts du Canada, Ottawa, Ontario; The Studio Museum of Harlem, New York; The Woodmere Museum; and Musée du Château de Montbeliard, France, among many others. His paintings reside in myriad private collections in the U.S. and abroad. He lives in Philadelphia with his wife, Cheryl, who was Director of External Affairs at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and is now retired. 

At the opening reception for the Juried Show on July 12th, MRAC President Ron Howard announced the prize winners and awarded them to the recipients. These works, in various media, were displayed on the gallery’s walls, along with all of the accepted work. Professor Brooker then spoke about his experience as judge of the show. He noted that entries were of a higher quality than before, which made the judging no less difficult. He also spoke at some length about several of the prize-winning works, offering observations as to why he found them excellent and outstanding. Among the works he commented on was Mike Oleksiak’s large piece, “Marching Up The Gorge”, a winner of one of three “Best in Show” awards. The acrylic on 3-D board work includes extensions which add three-dimensionality to its depiction of a railroad train crossing a bridge over a river. Brooker pointed to a bull-nose at the base of the bridge’s central column as a focal point from which to appreciate Oleksiak’s superb rendering of perspective.

The other two “Best in Show” winners were Elizabeth Heller for her oil painting, “Back of Main Street Manayunk” and Fred Moore for his infrared photograph, “2 Da Temple.” Moore also received an Honorable Mention – for “Swamp Symphony,” an enhanced photographic work – as did his daughter, Ellie Moniz, for her watercolor, “Two Wooden Doors." Moore and Moniz were featured artists in an exhibit at MRAC earlier this year titled “Enhanced Photography & Watercolor Encounters,” and both have been the subjects of articles on this website.

Professor Brooker also asked if anyone had any questions about any of the artworks in the show. I jumped at the chance for a critique of one of my mixed media pieces that had been accepted for the show. I repeated what he had said about a weakness in one of the paintings in the exhibit and asked if my work had the same problem. He explained that what was missing from my work was a place within it where the eye could come to rest. This clarified what had nagged at me about it, but which I’d been unable to put into words. It was a mini-lesson from a master artist, generously offered on the spot.

After the Juried Show closed on July 26th, most of the work from the exhibition was transferred to MRAC’s sister gallery, the RoxArt Gallery, at the Roxborough Development Corporation (RDC), located at 6111 Ridge Avenue, between Green Lane and Connarroe Street, Philadelphia, PA, where it can be viewed through the month of August. RDC is open 10:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M., Monday through Friday. Telephone 215.508.2358 for more information.  

Note: The works below are arranged in the order mentioned above.